Hi, my name is dizzy (chorus) Hi dizzy I just wanted you all to know that I am a procrastinator (applause)
I've made some small steps to overcoming my procrastination problems. I've included 2 of the methods that have worked the best for me below, in the hopes that others will follow suit.
(yes, I fully appreciate the irony of writing about procrastination in E2 :)
First Tip: Delay rewards until you finish a task
This method works best with small, often repeated, easily completed but much disliked tasks. The trick is to deny yourself something nice until you complete that niggling little job that you hate doing. Examples:
- Don't go for coffee in the morning until you've made a plan for the day
- Don't surf the web or hit E2 until you've made that phonecall
- Don't eat that chocolate bar until you've taken out the rubbish
- Don't go and watch a movie until you've done the washing up.
Each of these disliked tasks are quick to complete, but often left until the last minute, or never tackled. If you want to, you can match the level of dislike for a task to the level of delayed reward; 1) above is a lesser reward/task combination than 4)
I read about this method in Scott M Peck's book The road less travelled
Second Tip: It won't hurt you!
This method is a little more obscure than the last and works best on feared or new tasks. Essentially, you visualise the task as a metaphor and add to this metaphor until you feel good about the job at hand.
Imagine a plank of wood, 1 foot wide, 2 inches thick and 100 yards long, lying on a grassy field. It's easy to picture yourself walking across the plank without falling off. This is a much liked task, like surfing the net or writing letters or emails.
Now imagine the same plank suspended between two buildings 1000 feet off the ground. It's windy up here. The plank is swaying - it's not secured and it's a long way down. How easy is it to walk across now? I know I couldn't do it! This is a hated chore - why don't you want to walk across/finish the job? Because you are being told that you will fall (or fail) There's a little voice inside us all telling us (to a greater or lesser extent) that we will fall, that we're no good.
Still atop the building, now imagine that someone has set fire to the base of the building you're on and there's no way down! The pressure to get across is much higher now; so much so that you will get across any which way - Crawling or sliding with your eyes tightly shut. This is how I feel about many chores - I know I have to do it, I have no choice, so I get it done with the minimum effort and do a poor job.
Now imagine that the plank has a safety net underneath it and that you have a parachute and safety ropes to prevent you falling. Suddenly it's easier (perhaps not much) to walk across. You know that if you fall, things won't be so bad. Overcoming the fear of failure can be the first step that gets me started on a chore. Making the scene safe helps you to realise that this task isn't so important, or that failure isn't as bad as you're making it out to be.
This is how I've overcome some much feared tasks. I've tried to visualise the task as something bad, then adjusted the scene to make sure I'm safe. It may seem that this won't work, but don't knock the power of your mind - give it a try, you may be pleasantly surprised.
I learned this technique from Neil Fiore's book The Now Habit (all about procrastination and quite good so far (I'm about halfway through - I keep putting it off :)
Anyway, if you've got any tips, add 'em below!